Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sent shockwaves through the royal family on Thursday morning when they announced they would step down as senior royals and transition to financial independence.
However, questions abound about the royals’ new “working model” for 2020, and why the two - who have a combined independent wealth of around AU$60 million - need to “work to become financially independent”.
“In 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made the choice to transition into a new working model,” the official Royal Sussex website reads.
“As they step back as senior members of the Royal Family and no longer receive funding through the Sovereign Grant, they will become members of the Royal Family with financial independence which is something they look forward to.”
Buckingham Palace in response issued a clipped statement: “Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.”
What are these ‘complicated issues’?
The couple “value the ability to earn a professional income, which in the current structure they are prohibited from doing,” the official website reads.
Their decision to become financially independent means the two will no longer receive funding from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant - which previously covered 5 per cent of their costs.
“Their Royal Highnesses prefer to release this financial tie.”
The other 95 per cent is funded through the Duchy of Cornwall as allocated by the Prince of Wales, Charles, under the system in place since Prince William and Prince Harry first established their offices.
It appears the two will continue to receive these funds from the Duchy of Cornwall, although this could be one of the “complicated issues” Buckingham Palace referred to in its statement.
This is the question that needs to be answered.
Having read Harry & Meghan's new website, the summary is that "financially independent" means:— dan barker (@danbarker) January 8, 2020
1. They will stop taking the 5% of their income from The Queen.
2. They will keep the 95% from Charles.
3. In giving up the 5%, they want to be able to work commercially.
The Duchy of Cornwall is the land managed by Prince Charles, which has an income of over $40 million according to 2018 financial statements.
“The current Prince of Wales chooses to use a substantial proportion of his income from the Duchy estate to meet the cost of his public and charitable work as well as the public and private lives of his family, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and their children,” the Duchy of Cornwall website reads.
However, the two are already wealthy without the grant and funds from the duchy. Markle had a reported worth of $7 million prior to marrying Prince Harry.
And, Prince Harry’s net worth in 2018 was between $36 million and $60 million after receiving an allowance from Prince Charles and a hefty inheritance from Princess Diana, his salary from serving in the army and income from a trust set up by his great grandmother.
What else do we know?
The Duke and Duchess will pay for travel in their private time from their own income, with the royals noting that they have never used taxpayer funds to cover travel.
Their security bill while in the UK will be paid for by taxpayers, via the royal family as they are considered “internationally protected people”, and as such, security is required.
According to The Times, the couple could be forced to pay rent to continue living in the $4.6 million Frogmore Cottage after serious renovations were made on the historic property.
“Frogmore Cottage will continue to be the property of Her Majesty the Queen,” reads a statement on the official Royal Sussex website.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to use Frogmore Cottage – with the permission of Her Majesty The Queen – as their official residence as they continue to support the monarchy, and so that their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom.”
Meghan and Harry remain patrons of the same charities as they were before, but will also launch a new foundation. The two will potentially receive a salary from working in the charity.
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